Recently, I watched a video about how vast our world is. How vast not only when we look out into the open space but also go deep into the micro-world. Since then I have tried to comprehend my size in relation to my surroundings, which would give me an idea of where I stand in the world. The task is quite difficult, especially if one lives in a city. After all, cities are more or less isolated from nature. For instance, one cannot see the night sky due to light pollution, and the micro-ecosystem is replaced by cigarettes and cans of energy drinks. In order to get a stronger sense of my size I had the plan to travel to the mountains and stay in the woods until it gets dark. On Friday afternoon, mid-October, after two hours of trying to leave the city, me and Alek were on the road to Carinthia – the southernmost state of Austria with a Mediterranean climate. To be more precise, we were heading to the Karawanks – a mountain range, that marked the Austrian-Slovenian border. We arrived late at night at our accommodation, which was a private house in the middle of nowhere. We could finally see the Milky Way and recognize some of the constellations.
The view from the terrace on the following day was marvelous, we could see the mountains dressed in autumn colors, as their grey rock peaks rose above the clouds. Right between their skirts, tiny houses were scattered about.
Our plan for this day was to collect mushrooms in the forest nearby. On the way to the woods, we stopped to visit a small and very cold lake of a turquoise color. People thought that it was connected to the sea, hence the name Meerauge (Sea’s Eye). A local legend also tells how a wagon with two oxen sank in it and disappeared. After a few weeks, the yoke showed up in Lake Bled. I do not know about the wagon and the oxen, but the scientific explanation about the lake’s color does not include it being connected to the sea. The lake was created by a glacier from the Ice Age, and the trees in its water are from the same era. The beautiful turquoise color is caused by algae. Few small fishes swam in it, they would feed on the algae and bugs touching the surface. Seeing a fish hunting always impresses me no matter the size. These small fishes moved so swiftly in such a dense environment, then jumping and opening a surprisingly huge mouth for a bite is quite spectacular. I will allow myself a short lyrical deviation and tell you about my diving experience in Lake Bled. It was one year ago, right on the other side of the same mountain range. There we dove between wooden poles underneath the walking path that circles the lake. This was my first time seeing a pike so close. It was also my first encounter with a fish near my size in its environment. It looked quite ancient under the water, moving very slowly. However, knowing how fast they could be, my imagination formed a scene in which the pike attacked me for trespassing its territory and I could do absolutely nothing. Luckily, it was harmless and continued swimming slowly further away.
Back to the Meerauge I definitely didn’t want to be the mosquito that just got eaten by a little fish, five times its size.
A few minutes after leaving the lake, we entered the forest. Immediately we had the feeling we entered a medieval fairytale about witches and forest dwarfs. We left the main wide path and went deep into that fairytale. It was a thick forest of grey tall pines, which left almost no sunshine to reach the ground, thus it was covered in moss. We had a foggy day, with no sunshine, so the colors were quite vivid and the feeling of being in a magical place felt strong. It’s my favorite time during the year in the forest, as one could see mini-worlds enriching the ground. These worlds emerge after a tree has been cut off. Usually, the trunks would begin to decay and be claimed by the earth. Before that mini-worlds are created by mini-pines, mushrooms, and moss that grows on the trunk. Sometimes even when it’s raining, mini waterfalls could be seen. If tiny little humans were to be placed there, they would perceive their surroundings quite normally, as we feel in the forest. There I felt giant, and as such, I was very careful not to destroy them.